The March of the Cobots?

John W Lewis's picture
Chat Date: 
Thu, Feb 23, 2017

Are we entering the beginning of the age of the collaborative robot, co-robot, or just "cobot"?

Physical interaction

According to Wikipedia's description https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobot : "A cobot or co-robot (from collaborative robot) is a robot intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace. This is in contrast with other robots, designed to operate autonomously or with limited guidance, which is what most industrial robots were up until the decade of the 2010s."

In the FT, this article: "Meet the cobots: humans and robots together on the factory floor"  describes an example of a manufacturing facility. The article summarises the situation in the past:

"Traditionally, industrial robots have been locked behind cages, their heavy bulk and rapid movements making them unsafe for human interaction."

and then describes the current situation:

"Now, a lighter weight, mobile plug and play generation is arriving on the factory floor to collaborate safely with human workers thanks to advances in sensor and vision technology,..."

Also, Accenture provides some survey results and predications in "Humans and Machines: The Connected Industrial Workforce"

What's new?

Of course, humans have been operating in collaboration with machines for many years, but those machines have mainly been software systems which primarily handle information and perform functions and parts of processes that humans find boring, difficult, or impossible. Now these collaborative relationships are extending to hardware systems.

Questions

Let's discuss the development of cobots during #innochat on February 23rd, 2017, at our regular Thursday time of noon Eastern local time, based on the following questions:

  1. How would your job be improved by working with a collaborative robot (cobot)?
  2. What do cobots provide than is new, different and better?
  3. What difficulties or obstacles are to be overcome in the development of cobots?
  4. How far can you envisage cobots developing? What could they never do?
  5. How do you expect the relationship with cobots will develop? Who's in charge?!

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